April 13, 2024

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Bugesera Local Leaders Empowered in Gender-Sensitive and Climate-Resilient WASH Planning

In continuing their mission of conquering the WASH challenges in Rwanda, the Rwanda Young Water Professional (RYWP), in partnership with WaterAid Rwanda and Bugesera District, organized the training of local leaders on gender-sensitive and climate-resilient WASH planning in Bugesera District.

This training aimed to reinforce the ongoing inclusion of gender-sensitive and climate-resilient WASH services in district plans by local leaders while also facilitating discussions to assess how and why they are integrating these services, with a focus on climate resilience and gender sensitivity.

The trainees were the Executive Secretaries of the Cells, the National Women’s Council (CNF), and the health workers, with a total of 107 leaders.

Appolinalie BAMURANGE, the Bugesera district leader in charge of gender and family development, returning to what they benefited from this training, said that as leaders, they are more aware of what they are doing so that WASH activities can be done more by women and men who cooperate.

She said, “This training brought together different people who have responsibilities at the local level, so you would connect it with its importance because they are people who are close to the people who can make a difference in the lives of the people when they manage to explain the importance of water to them when they are joined by people of both sexes, whether female or male.”

She continued they realized that when there is no gender equality in WASH activities, the community lags in development, and that integrating gender sensitivity into their district activities empowers them by lessening their burden, improving health, and fostering greater participation in education and the economy.

She said, “We’ve heard that if we combine our efforts in each of our responsibilities according to what the training taught us, we found that the family could be broken even more because the family without the strength of the two would not be useful for them, and the woman, in particular, would not be able to get the time to communicate with water as it should be when it is self-supporting work, but with cooperation, all the benefits that come from it are more productive.”

Appolinalie revealed that many men sometimes fetch when they only need to sell, and she believes that this should change in family life, whether it is taking care of children, cooking, and so on, and man brings them closer to water even if he doesn’t do it.

She concluded by saying that in the Bugesera district, the people who usually cooperate in water, sanitation, and hygiene have not yet reached the desired level, where they found the need to join forces, especially in finding water because it is the source of the family’s life.

Ritha NISHIMWE, the Climate Resilient WASH Hub lead, Rwanda Young Water Professionals, coming back to the purpose of this training, highlighted it as the voice of the citizens to make a difference in the planning of activities related to WASH, to benefit them, but those benefits come from the ideas and the way they advocated for the leaders, telling them what is right for them in water, sanitation, and hygiene practices.

She noted that inadequate WASH services disproportionately impact women and girls, who shoulder the main responsibility for water and sanitation tasks, and that vulnerable and marginalized groups face the inordinate impacts of climate change and have specific needs and vulnerabilities that must be addressed in resilience planning.

She said, “It is important that we talk to the leaders to teach them about climate resilience so that in their planning and commitments they will add activities that help them deal with climate resilience and that they take into account the needs of men and women in cleaning and sanitation activities, including the cooperation of the two in these activities.”

“It is a training that aims to increase the knowledge of leaders that both women and men have a special message; they need to know that these activities concern the whole family, girls, boys, men, and women,” she added.

Ritha noted that some of the methods they have included for them are: the use of model homes; some men are known to help in their homes with household chores such as water, sanitation, hygiene, and family care; as well as the use of various pieces of training that teach cooperation in WASH activities.

She concluded that community engagement in climate-resilient and gender-sensitive WASH planning is crucial for leveraging local expertise, enhancing the resilience of vulnerable groups, promoting inclusive solutions, and improving access to resources and services.

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